Napa Valley's Seven Stones winery has sold for $34 million following the death of its founder, Ronald Wornick, last year. The price includes a 45-acre plot of land on the outskirts of St. Helena near the Meadowood resort, including 3 acres of planted vineyards, a 6,600-square-foot residence and a winery.
Real estate firm Compass announced the sale. Damian Archbold of Compass would only identify the buyer as an unnamed "multinational corporation with a significant U.S. presence," adding, "This acquisition will form part of a newly established entity for their wine business."
The buyer has only been identified as a holding company registered as HSIH NHH INV LLC. As first reported by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, HSIH NHH INV's California registration contact is Sophia Jin. She is also a senior vice president and head of investment in San Francisco for the Hanwha Group, a South Korean conglomerate. A Korean newspaper also reported that Hanwha was the winery's buyer. Hanwha is a major player in the solar industry, owning a giant solar cell production facility in Georgia, and also has an expanding international luxury hospitality division. Jin did not respond to request for comment.
Seven Stones was founded when Wornick and his wife, Anita, purchased 45 acres of land above the Meadowood resort in the mid-1990s, eventually planting three acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Ronald's Wornick Company produced millions of MRE, or meals ready to eat, for the U.S. Defense Department and international humanitarian aid. Seven Stones was Wornick's second venture in wine, according to his obituary; in the late 1970s, he developed a 350-acre vineyard that he later sold to the Hess Collection.
The Wornicks debuted their estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon with the 2005 vintage. Production was limited to the estate grapes, hovering around 400 to 500 cases annually. The winery takes its name from a large granite Richard Deutsch sculpture on the property. The Wornicks were avid art collectors, and some of their art collection is included in the sale.
The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was featured at the 2008 California Wine Experience on a panel of West Coast rising star wineries. There, Wornick described his transition into winemaking as "serendipitous." He bought a Napa vineyard from Bill Harlan as part of a retirement program to "stay out of mischief." His original intent was not to make a commercial wine, but "the grapes kept waving [at him]." After a soil analysis revealed his land was ideal for Napa Cabernet, Wornick started working on his own cuvée with the help of winemaker Aaron Pott, who will stay on at the winery under its new ownership.
If Hanwha is the new owner of Seven Stones, that would mark the second purchase of a Napa winery by a South Korean company this year, following the purchase of Shafer Vineyards by luxury firm Shinsegae for a reported $250 million.
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